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Fewer Than Half of Americans Think Their Taxes Are Too High

Americans are the happiest they've been about their tax rates in quite a while.


Americans are the happiest they've been about their tax rates in quite a while. Just in time for Tax Day, a new Gallup poll shows 47 percent of Americans think their tax rate is "about right." Asked separately about this year's income tax, nearly six in 10 Americans considered their payment "fair." The percentage of Americans who think their taxes are too high is 46 percent, the lowest rate in the past decade. Low-income Americans, probably because of tough economic times, are the most dissatisfied with their rates—significantly more than they were in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, Americans' satisfaction with their taxes spiked in the early aughts, right after President Bush passed the first round of federal tax cuts. But why do fewer people than last year think their taxes are too high? It may very well be the shift in a national conversation—from a Tea Party obsession with spending to a focus on the wealth gap ushered in by Occupy Wall Street. It could be that people are feeling the effects of spending cuts in their daily lives, from struggling schools to transportation fare hikes (although a good number of Americans have no idea where their taxes go). Either way, Republicans set on cutting taxes even more should pay close attention to these numbers: The poor, not the rich, are dissatisfied with their tax rates. The wealthy can admit they're doing just fine.

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Lessons from Santorum: You Don't Have to Win to Set the Agenda

Santorum has achieved the best-case scenario of a longshot candidate: making a mark on the national conversation.


When I was 17 years old, my father ran for governor of New York on the Green Party ticket. From May to November 2002, he drove around the state in the family's Volvo two or three times a week, racking up about 10,000 miles. The campaign bill was around $60,000, some of which our family footed. Winning was never the point: My dad earned 41,000 votes total.

I was horrified about spending the money, and perplexed about my mother's tolerance of a semi-absentee partner. It seemed like such a waste. "Why are you doing this, Dad?" I asked him. His answer was simple: "I want to influence the conversation." I was skeptical, until the day after my high school graduation when he handed me a lengthy New York Times profile of him and his bid for governor, one that quoted him on the need for environmental protections, campaign finance reform, and state-subsidized health insurance—positions that were absent from the more mainstream candidates' platforms. "This is why I'm running," he told me. "When you run for office, you get publicity for your ideas." Despite the fact that my middle-class parents had to put a chunk of the campaign expenses on credit cards and were still paying them off in 2006, my father doesn't regret running. Those few thousand people who listened to him, and ended up voting for him, made it worth it.

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The New Red Scare: Why Muslims Aren't Republicans Anymore

The vast majority of Muslims used to be Republicans, with only a thin sliver voting for Democrats. Since 9/11, those numbers have flipped.


Since 9/11, fear of Muslims infiltrating our sacred American democracy has become the new Red Scare, and it continues to taint the 2012 election season. The latest comment comes from a frequent offender Newt Gingrich: Earlier this week, he said the widespread misconception that Barack Obama is a Muslim "should bother the president." He defended those who incorrectly believe Obama is Muslim: "It’s not because they’re stupid," he said. "It’s because they watch the kind of things I just described to you. When you have every bishop in the Catholic Church say this administration’s at war with their religion, you don’t think that has an impact?"

But in Republicans' efforts to appeal to older, white, conservative voters, they're alienating another voting bloc. Frontline recently compiled a range of statistics about American Muslims, and found that an overwhelming 78 percent of them voted Republican in the 2000 presidential election, with only a thin sliver voting Democratic. Since 9/11, those numbers have flipped: The percentage of American Muslims who “lean toward the GOP” is just 11 percent.

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Politics on Wheels: Critiquing Campaign Buses

Like any design element of a political campaign, a candidate’s bus is important for how it represents the candidate himself.


The return of campaign season means the buses are back, as presidential hopefuls ditch their blazers and roll up their shirtsleeves to partake in the decades-old tradition of campaigning on the road. Most years, the buses themselves don’t get much attention—they’re simply the vehicles for their candidates’ messages. But that all changed last week, when Senator John McCain dissed the President's campaign bus on the Senate floor.

On a three-day road trip through Virginia and North Carolina to promote his American Jobs Act, President Obama traversed the countryside in Ground Force One, a sleek black motorcoach loaded with more technology than an Apple store. McCain took offense to the bus’s origin—the vehicle’s shell and chassis was purchased from a Canadian manufacturer and customized in Nashville—but he also critiqued its visual appeal.

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Culture Clash: Why the Perry-Romney Showdown Is Significant

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney's sparring at last night's debate laid out the GOP's identity crisis in no uncertain terms.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4gHmzZhY0

Last night in Las Vegas, all bets were off. The takeaway from the GOP debate was the astonishing showdown between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney over illegal immigration. After appearing tongue-tied in couple of recent debates, Perry tried to redeem himself by calling out Romney for hiring "illegals," then (somewhat awkwardly) bulldozed over his opponent's rebuttal. Romney shed his cool-as-a-cucumber rep and rose to the occasion, making his disdain as clear as glass. He cackled, he smirked, he became visibly peeved, and in a pissing-contest move, he put his hand on Perry's shoulder. Anderson Cooper, CNN's correspondent on duty, even quipped, "I thought Republicans followed the rules." Both liberal and conservative pundits agree that the debate was a shitshow rife with infighting and thin on actual information.

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Who's the Most Conservative GOP Contender? A Candidate Matrix

Here's what you need to know so far about the frontrunners of the Republican primary.

The GOP primary has seemed a million miles away, but after a pair of Iowa events—the debate in Ames on Thursday and the straw poll today—the race is much more tangible. Don't feel bad if you're just tuning in now. We've created a handy matrix* to help you visualize how the candidates relate to one another ideologically (and where they fall in relation to President Obama) on both fiscal and social issues. In the most conservative quadrant, it's a crowded field, which makes sense, given that primaries are all about pleasing your loyal base.

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